Olympus PEN-F hands-on report

Here is a quick hands-on report on the new Olympus PEN-F camera ($1,199) from a reader:


  • Ergonomic design (IMHO de-facto m43 Pen standard); for first-time m43 users, can be easily get addicted to this one
  • Typical OMD camera operation and functionality in a Pen body, customizable buttons and dials
  • Solid build (despite made in Viet), no noticeable screws
  • Excellent side articulating screen design (preferred over conventional tilt up/down design), first on a Pen model
  • Trusted Oly menu GUI and display, true live histogram (visible during EV shift)
  • Easy-to-access art filter effects options, durable art filter front dial design
  • Good design faux-leather (rubber?) wraparound allows for excellent slip-less grip even without dedicated grip add-ons (body has flat right grip by default)
  • Pleasant EVF design, bright by default and good in magnification
  • Feels camera-like, unlike the competition (eg. Pana)
  • Reasonably fast AF


  • Too much customization that may confuse the average Pen user; must have extensive OMD operation knowledge needed to effectively operate the Pen-F
  • No image processing improvements, still 12-bit A/D and TruePic VII (not sure why Oly is so insistent on the former)
  • Non-weatherproof design despite in pro-body form; exemplified by weak battery door without gasket or whatsoever
  • Inconvenient card insert position due to close proximity to battery door hinge
  • Easy over-dependence/exploitation of art filter functions; raw capture necessary to retain original color data/gamut
  • Annoying EVF/rear display flickering under artificial light
  • Grossly overpriced
  • Lens bundle: no normal-focal length 25mm F1.8 included, only wide 12mm F2.0 or 17mm F1.8 offered depending on region
  • Too many dials; mechanical EV dial could be deleted and substituted by twin dial design augmented with frontal 2x2 flip switch design
  • Programmable mechanical EV dial can be confusing (IMO only electronic dials should be programmable)
  • No integrated flash (due to EVF integration)
  • Confusing video controls; frame rate selections controlled by "Video out" setting (NTSC/PAL); no mic-in/headphone jack, thus inability to integrate with Oly's own PCM recorders for better audio capture on video


  • Would pass the Pen-F for an E-M5-II (if not the E-M1) without hesitation
  • Pen-F's design sets precedence to how future E-Px/E-PLx models could be improved, such as implementation of side articulating screen, compulsory twin control dial design, new processing engine, in-camera flash etc.

The Olympus PEN-F manual can be downloaded here.

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